Sunset Drive-In

1700 Arenal Road SW,
Albuquerque, NM 87105

400 cars

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Commonwealth Amusement Corp., Frontier Theatres

Nearby Theaters

Sunset Drive-In

The Sunset Drive-In opened November 28, 1951 with Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis in “That’s My Boy” & William Holden in “Streets of Laredo”. It had a capacity for 400 cars. It closed in 2000.

The screen, concessions stand, & ticket booth are all still standing. It is fenced off, with ‘NO Trespassing’ signs aligned the area! By late-2021 the concession stand/projection building had been demolished.

Contributed by Randy A Carlisle

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

BoogityBones on April 27, 2017 at 10:38 pm

The good ol' Sunset Drive In. I worked there during the 80’s when I was in high school. Good times.

MichaelKilgore on February 14, 2018 at 8:22 am

The owner was active enough recently to turn down a request “to project a message of love on its tattered screen,” according to a Valentine’s Day 2018 article in the Albuquerque Journal.

dansdriveintheater on January 23, 2019 at 3:45 pm

brought by a chicago couple who will turn into a farm which will also have a farm to table restraunt and yes they plan on showing films!

davidcoppock on April 1, 2019 at 9:15 pm

Opened with “Thats my boy” and “Streets of Laredo”.

MichaelKilgore on April 19, 2019 at 2:35 pm

An ad in the July 11, 1981 Albuquerque Journal showed the Sunset under the Commonwealth banner showing a Spanish-language film.

Journal ads for the Sunset in 1987 and 1988, not under Commonwealth, listed English-language movies. I couldn’t find any similar ads in 1989.

Motion Picture Almanac drive-in list summary for the Sunset:

  • 1952-53: capacity 500, owner Marlin Butler
  • 1953-57: capacity "250-500", owner Marlin Butler
  • 1958-59: capacity 401, owner Marlin Butler
  • 1960-66: capacity 401, owner Carl Halberg
  • 1969-76: capacity 401
  • 1977-79: no capacity, Commonwealt
  • 1980-87: off the list
  • 1988 (final list): one screen, D. Armino
MichaelKilgore on November 20, 2019 at 6:53 am

Motion Picture Herald, Dec. 15, 1951: “Marlin Butler opening new 500-car drive-in, Albuquerque, N. M., called the Sunset. The theatre will operate year around.”

MichaelKilgore on January 28, 2020 at 7:41 pm

Boxoffice, Aug. 12, 1968: Marlin Butler has sold the Sunset Drive-In at Albuquerque, N.M., to Commonwealth-Frontier Theatres, headquartered in Kansas City.

MichaelKilgore on November 20, 2021 at 8:40 pm

I guess that D. Armino reopened the Sunset (if it had closed) in 1987. That’s when I started seeing English-language movie ads for the Sunset, and would account for the Motion Picture Almanac listing in 1988. The final ad I found was for “Die Hard” and “License To Drive” on Sept. 25, 1988.

An Albuquerque Tribune columnist wrote in Nov. 2, 1995 noted that the Sunset was still standing “as it had for years, though locked behind barbed wire and chain-link fence, unkempt and neglected … A plywood sign on the ticket booth said, “Open May 31.” “

Kenmore on November 20, 2021 at 9:25 pm

An April, 2021 Google Street view shows the entire area has been cleared. A building has been constructed near the former location of the concession stand/projection booth. And a house has been built in the NW corner.

The screen and marquee still stands, although the marquee is still in relatively poor condition.

MichaelKilgore on April 14, 2022 at 6:55 pm

I found a final-er ad for the Sunset in the Albuquerque Journal. Now I’d say that the last one was on Sept. 1, 1990, showing “Gremlins II”.

And I may have found the slightly misspelled D. Armino.

Albuquerque Journal, May 12, 2009: “The Sunset opened in the early ‘50s, built by a hard-working couple, Marlin and Carrie Butler, who years later, coincidentally became Caroline’s (Armijo Butler, 60) in-laws. Opened a wholesome family place, the Butlers did, and poured their hearts into it, till 1967 … Caroline’s father, David Armijo, owned the land. All the rest – exit signs, popcorn machine, restrooms, was leased.”

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